The precarious economic situation and the fact that many people have been furloughed or laid-off as a consequence of coronavirus have left to a spike in upfront fee scams. Jobseekers across the UK are being warned to be wary for these scams, which could leave them considerably out of pocket.
Upfront Fee – What Is It?
The upfront fee scam is as the name suggests a way of extracting money from someone in order to make something else happens. We’ve all had the emails telling us we’ve won the lottery in Spain, or that a distant relative has died leaving us a fortune, and all we have to do is send off money to have the funds released. The job-related upfront fee scam is along similar lines. Applicants see an advert online for a job or are contacted about an opportunity. The job they are promised sounds right up their street, but first they are told they need to pay a processing fee, or a registration fee, or some other sum of money to secure the position. Once the money has been paid, the job usually never materialises.
DBS Checks for Farm Work
One of the companies which has been exposed as trying to capitalise on the coronavirus pandemic was involved in recruiting applicants for farm work. The coronavirus, combined with fewer agricultural workers coming to the UK post-Brexit, has resulted in a huge shortage of people to pick fruit and vegetables in farms across the UK. Furloughed workers, school leavers and university students have been encouraged to sign up for opportunities in their area. The official Pick for Britain website has hundreds of openings, and matches applicants with farmers in their local area, free of charge.
Some other recruitment companies have however jumped on the agricultural bandwagon and have been actively approaching students and young people offering work. Not all recruiters are honest about their intentions. One case highlighted was of a sixth-form student who registered for an online portal for picking work and was told that she would need to pay £58 for an enhanced DBS check. Criminal records checks are not a legal requirement for anyone who is interested in casual labour on a farm picking fruit, and the enhanced disclosure is reserved for people working closely with children or vulnerable adults. However, this sort of scam uses the knowledge that most people have about the DBS system to try to con money out of the vulnerable.
Paying for DBS Checks
Part of the reason why upfront fee scams are successful is that they are rooted in a grain of truth. In some cases, workers are asked to pay for their own DBS checks. This is common practice in the care sector. Other employers might ask you to pay for your DBS check, on the understanding that they’ll refund you in your first pay packet. This is legal, and not necessarily a scam. However, make sure you understand that a DBS check is indeed required for the role, and that you are not being charged inflated costs for processing.